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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Vulnerability of Faith". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Charles Gunn left L.A. in 2006 to get away from the Angel Investigations. Twenty-three years later his son shows up in L.A. to find Angel -- to let Angel and Company know what really happened to Charles Gunn. Sequel to "the vul. of faith"

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Highlander > Other BtVS/AtS Characters(Moderator)DemonaFR181227,997033,9952 Aug 032 Aug 03Yes

Chapter Five: A Trip Down Memory Lane

For Disclaimer and Notes see first chapter.

Chapter Five: A Trip Down Memory Lane

September 30th, 2006
Cordelia and Gunn’s apartment
Downtown LA

“Cordy — you ready?” I asked and she looked up at me. Her face blotchy and tears were streaming down her face. The minimal light in the apartment caused the shadows under her eyes to seem darker and bigger than they already were.

“Yeah, let me um…” she started and looked around.

“Go get dressed Cordelia. Remember nothing abnormal,” I quietly instructed her. She nodded.

“I will be back in a few minutes,” she told me and I nodded. I looked over at Adam as he sat in the chair in the corner of the room. He was dressed head to toe in black: black leather pants, a black silk shirt, black shoes and a black ski mask and gloves sat on the arm of the chair next to him.

“You ready?” I asked him quietly. He looked up at me and nodded briefly.

“Yeah, definitely,” he answered and I smiled at him sadly.

“You sure you want to go through with this?” I asked him, needing to be completely sure about his loyalty in this.

“Look, Faith, we have been through this a hundred or more times. I am completely with you and completely ready to go through with this. Are you?” He countered.

“Yes,” I answered softly. He caught on, however, that something wasn’t quite right.

“What is wrong?” He asked me as he came over to stand next to me. He wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me close to him. I relaxed into his embrace and sighed.

“We are going to break Gunn’s heart. He was completely devastated when she died last time and now she is going to supposedly die for real. He already had to lose her once…I’m just…I don’t know what I would do it if it were me,” I confessed quietly.

“He will be fine Faith. We will make sure of that. He has been itching to leave this place, to leave Cordelia, to get a new life and this is just the reason that he needs to leave us all behind and start anew,” Adam reassured me. His words were so easy to believe but I was still a little unsure about this. Cordelia came out of the bedroom a few moments later. She had on jeans, a black spandex tee shirt and her usual black leather trench coat.

“Ready,” she told us. I moved away from Adam and looked up at them.

“Ok — we know that your Watcher is going to be there tonight Cordelia, so you both are going to have to put on a realistic show. Hopefully we can even fool the Watchers!” I informed them and they both nodded. I moved down into the floor and sat on the edge of the circle I had drawn in the middle of her living room floor. Adam sat down on the other side facing me. “All right. Everyone ready?” I asked and both of them agreed they were.

Cordelia stepped into the circle next to Adam’s sword and Adam and I joined hands on either side of her, closing her inside our bodies. We chanted the necessary spells to protect her. I was going against the laws of Immortals when I placed a spell over her neck that wouldn’t allow her head to separate from her body. The trick to the spell was that a realistic but fake version of her head would fall down when Adam beheaded her and only the two of us would be able to see her real head attached to her body. Everyone else would just see the body and head separated. Another spell I cast over her body and Adam’s sword was that once the sword passed through her neck that she would die until the spell on the sword was broken. This was to keep her Immortal signature off until we were sure she was safe and not around people. She was done after I did those spells on her. We just had to hope that they all worked the way that they were supposed to. We all knew that we were taking a risk with Cordelia’s life, but that was a risk that she wanted to take.

“Everyone ready?” Adam asked after he rose to his feet and picked up his sword out of the circle. It glowed for a moment and then returned to its normal shade.

“Let me cast quickly the spell over myself. I need to make sure that I come out looking like shit. So, I have to cast a mild anti-protection spell on myself to allow the wounds you inflict to be worse than they really are. So please remember when you and I fight that you are just simply fighting a normal Slayer instead of what I am today. Don’t kill me!” I warned Adam and he nodded. I quickly cast the spell over myself and turned to Adam. “All set — you know the incantation to get it to work right?” He nodded and then smirked.

“I am so gonna have the time of my life kicking your ass!” He admitted to me.

“Good,” I muttered and he laughed. He tossed me my vest and then handed me my sword. I slid my sword down the back of my vest and then pulled on my black leather coat and we were heading out the door of the apartment. Adam would leave the apartment a few minutes after us and we would meet in an alley in about half an hour as planned. I just hoped that everything would work. Cordelia and I headed down to our usual haunt to take out a few vampires before the events transpired later tonight.

“You nervous?” She asked me as we walked almost soundlessly down the dark alley.

“A little,” I honestly answered.

“I don’t want to wait. I want to just do it and get it over with. Because I’m not sure that your spells will work. I mean, you are trying to fuck with the laws that govern my existence,” she told me, a slight tremor in her voice.

“I know Cordelia, I know. I have confidence though in my skills. You are going to be just fine,” I told her and she looked at me.

“If I don’t…just know that I really appreciate what you are sacrificing to do this for me,” she told me as she came to a complete stop in the middle of the alley.

“Cordy…it isn’t going to happen…you are going to fine,” I argued, trying to put some sort of confidence behind my words so that she would see that I wasn’t totally unconfident in myself.

“Faith, listen to me. In case something goes wrong don’t blame yourself. I asked for this. You were the one that suggested the faked death scenario. I know you Faith, promise me that you won’t blame yourself!” She pleaded with me. “Look me in the eye, and promise me that you will not blame yourself! Promise me Faith!” She begged me.

“Cordy – fine, I promise, I’ll blame you,” I said with a smirk and she smiled at me.

“I just can’t…it isn’t fair to him…” she tried to explain.

“You don’t have to explain anything to me Cordelia. I know you,” I told her and tears glistened in her eyes.

“Ok, we need to go,” she told me with confidence in her voice.

“Yeah, death is something you don’t want to be late for,” I teased her and she surprised me by shoving me back up against the wall of the building behind me.

“I love you Faith,” she mumbled quietly and then crushed my lips painfully almost in a bruising kiss. She pulled away almost as quickly as she came at me and walked silently away from me towards the meeting place. I followed silently behind her, choosing not to discuss the incident that just took place.

**************

Most people don’t give Cordelia anywhere near enough credit as an actress. She is totally convincing when she wants to be. We got into the alley and it just happens we got there by chasing a vampire. I fought the vampire and I heard Cordelia call my name. I looked up as I dusted the vampire to see Adam standing there in the black outfit that he had gotten for this occasion, sword drawn and gleaming in the slight light coming from the building interior. She had drawn her sword from her coat as well and was standing there prepared to battle. Before she had a chance to react I rushed him, pulling my sword from my vest as I went. Before I could even get to him he hit me with the lightning bolt that was to cover the incantation he had just recited to activate my spell. I flew back with the force of the lightning and ended up doing a backwards roll to come up on my left hand, sword in my right and on both knees to face him. I growled angrily and attacked him again. We fought heavily and with the spell that had been placed on me, he kicked my ass almost immediately. The fact that I wasn’t fighting anywhere near as hard as I should have probably had a lot to do with my ass kicking as well. Finally he knocked my sword to the ground and I rolled away from the arc of his sword. He picked my sword up from the ground and threw it at me. It hit me in my right arm, went completely through it, and pinned me effectively against the wood fence that was behind me. The pain that was racing through my body was ridiculous and it almost hurt too bad to even remember to breathe. Cordelia was screaming at him the entire time to get away from me that she was the one that was Immortal, the one that he wanted. He turned to her after he was sure that I was out of the picture for the time being. I was trying my best to get the sword out of my arm and out of the fence, but it was buried to the hilt in my arm and wedged into the fence and it hurt way too bad to try to get it out. I looked back up at Cordelia as I heard the first clash of swords. She was absolutely beautiful when she fought. She looked completely helpless with her size and gender, but she had a lot of focus and training under her belt. She was losing badly, bleeding freely from almost every limb on her body as she fought for her life. But she was destined to die, a staged death but nevertheless a death, tonight and losing knowing that wasn’t hard for her.

I screamed for her to watch out for the move that he was going to use on her. He had used it so many times on me before when we sparred but my screams fell upon deaf ears. She didn’t realize it was coming until it was too late and she couldn’t get the sword up in time and I witnessed her death. Even knowing in my mind that it was staged didn’t prepare me for the sight of her getting beheaded. Something could have still gone wrong and she could have ended up really losing her head and this wouldn’t have been a staged show after all. Fortunately the fake head rolled a few feet from where her body collapsed. I could see clearly that her real head was, thankfully, still attached and that she wasn’t breathing. Adam started chanting quietly, I only heard him due to my enhanced Slayer hearing. He was starting the spell to get the mist of her essence and then the lightning storm that would come afterwards. It had to look completely real or else it wouldn’t serve the purpose needed and all would have been done in vain. I hoped that it would pass for a reasonable light show. I was still screaming for Cordelia, ever the actress I am, the whole time that the light show was taking place. Tears were streaming down my face, mixing with my blood, tears of both emotional and physical pain. After he was done getting electrocuted he rose to his feet and placed his sword slowly back into his jacket. He walked on shaky legs over to me and stood right in front of me. To anyone that didn’t know this was staged it would look like he was telling me something about how wonderful it was to kill my friend, but he was whispering that he was in need of a good fuck, electricity always did that too him. I had to bite my lip so not laugh and then he punched me once in the face. I pretended that it knocked me out, truth be told it almost did. I waited for a few minutes to look like he really did knock me out and then I reached painfully into my vest to pull out my cell phone. I was about to dial the hotel when it rang instead. I answered it.

“Hello?” I choked out, tears were still running down my face and my throat was raw from screaming.

“Where are you?” Angel’s worried voice questioned immediately.

“In the alley back behind Genesis,” I told him and the phone went dead before I could tell him not to bring anyone else. I tried, as hard as I could, to pull the sword out of the fence because it was really starting to become painful. Too painful for me to even think straight to rid myself of the anti-protection spell so that I would have the strength to rip it out. My arm was starting to swell badly around the wound because it was smashed in between the hilt and the fence. Angel arrived about five minutes later, I knew that he had busted ass to get to this side of town as fast as he did. He wasn’t alone; I didn’t expect him to be. Richie, Gunn, and Mac were with him. They all came running around the corner and they immediately stopped when they saw Cordelia and me. Gunn was the first to move at all. He walked over to Cordelia’s body but wouldn’t touch it. Angel moved second and came to my rescue, as usual. He gently looked my arm over.

“You wanna explain why you are in this situation?” Angel asked me as he grabbed hold of the handle of my sword and put one foot up against the wood fence. Using that as leverage he pulled the sword, none too gently and none too quickly out of my arm. After it was free from my arm I collapsed and then managed to crawl over to Cordelia. Tears were still running down my face and blood was pouring down my arm. I felt consciousness slipping away slightly. I got to her body and grabbed a hold of her rapidly cooling hand and held on tight.

“Oh God Cordy…I’m so sorry…I couldn’t…he was too strong…I’m so sorry!” I sobbed to her body. I bowed my head and rested it on her chest. Sobs racked my body. I thought that I put on a decent display for everyone concerned. Finally I felt a hand on my shoulder. I lifted my head to look at Mac.

“We need to take her out of here. People will be wondering why there is a headless body in the back alley and why a severely beaten girl is not dead,” he quietly told me and I nodded to him. “I’ll get her head,” he quickly announced and I went to grab her body but pain raced through my arm and I had to grab it instead.

“I got her,” Angel said and stooped down to pick her up. Her sword lay useless on the alley next to her body. I picked it up with my left hand and carefully lowered it into my vest with my own sword. Gunn hadn’t said a single word the whole time that we were here. I was really worried. Angel got us to the car and we drove quickly and carefully back to the hotel. Once there we unloaded Cordelia and put her body down on the floor of the garage on plastic bags, her head was laid next to her body. I made it up three of the steps into the hotel before I collapsed. Gunn caught me and carefully carried me into the hotel and set me down on the counter none too gently. Amanda was there waiting at the desk.

“Where is Cordelia?” She asked quietly.

“She is dead,” Angel stated in a monotone.

“So it was her lightning,” Amanda said and Gunn glared at her.

“That is all you have to say?” Gunn yelled at her.

“What am I supposed to say Gunn? I’m in shock here too! She was one of my friends. Look at Faith. Obviously whatever it was that killed Cordelia was strong — they did a fucking number on Faith!” Amanda yelled back and I could see the lights click on in their heads.

“What/who was it that did this to her?” Mac asked.

“I don’t know…he was wearing all black. I really…I don’t remember. He didn’t say anything. We were chasing a vamp and as I staked him I heard Cordelia call out to me. She needed me. I looked up from the vampire and there he was just standing there sword drawn. I attacked him. I knew he was there for Cordelia, but he was going to have to go through me first. He did. He hit me with a bolt of lightning and I think he chanted something. I mean he placed some kinda spell over me. I didn’t notice it when it first hit me but I felt it as I continued to fight. He reduced my strength to that of a Slayer — of the Slayer I was before I learned to control my energy and center it for my benefit. And then he pinned me to the fence and killed Cordy,” I managed to get out. “I don’t know who he was but he was Immortal. She sensed him. I sensed him,” I told them and then my eyes fluttered shut for a moment.

“Faith, what is wrong? Stay with us,” Amanda’s voice brought me back out of the darkness.

“I’m dying,” I answered without a second thought. “He made me back into something I’m not. My body as it is can’t handle the damage that was inflicted on me,” I told them. I was going to have a severe problem with this situation if I wasn’t able to break my own spell soon.

“What do you mean? You are a vampire,” Amanda asked.

“What I mean is that my body is dead Amanda. Sure my heart beats and my blood pumps through my body, but I am dead. The only reason that my heart beats and that I breathe is because it is natural for me to do it. But my body as a whole is dead. The reason I am able to heal from things is because I feed from blood and because the demon inside me heals me. The demon isn’t there anymore — I mean it is — but it is hidden. This guy did a number on me. He hit me up pretty good and now because I have the strength of a Slayer but the dead body of a vampire any wounds I incur are not going to heal but actually do the opposite and decay. I think,” I told her and she looked at me.

“You are kidding right?” Amanda asked me.

“She isn’t Amanda,” Angel quietly said. “We are going to have find out whatever spell he used on you and then reverse it. Any idea what he said or did before you were hit with the lightning?”

“None, I didn’t realize he was doing a spell. I just thought he had the wicked cool power of throwing lightning bolts, our own little Zeus,” I told them, trying to be as honest as possible.
Everyone went into research mode shortly after that comment, minus Gunn. He went back downstairs with Cordelia. I stayed up on the counter, in view of everyone, so if something happened they would be right there to help me as much as they could. Angel tried to get me to feed, but the smell and sight of the blood made me sick to my stomach. Something had gone horribly wrong with the spell that we had placed over my body and I wasn’t sure that I wanted it in place any longer than necessary.

******************

“When is Giles getting here?” I randomly asked about two hours later.

“Giles?” Mac asked a little confused.

“You guys didn’t call Giles to let him know that Cordelia was dead? She was one of his children. Plus Willow and Cassandra have a right to know as well,” I told them all quietly. I started coughing up blood and in my attempt to sit up and control the pain I ended up falling off the counter and onto the linoleum floor beneath me. I smacked my forehead rather hard and then rolled over on my back again.

“Faith, can you hear me?” Angel asked, worriedly.

“I’m fine,” I answered and took a couple deep breaths to control myself. I was in a world of pain but I couldn’t let anyone know that. “Where is Adam?” I asked.

“He is on his way back,” Mac answered from across the room. He was sitting there looking through books, looking for the spell that would do what was done to me. He wouldn’t find it. It was older than spoken language; it was a spell only Adam knew.

“Good, I would like to see him before I die,” I joked lightly but no one laughed.

“You aren’t going to die Faith,” Angel told me.

“You don’t know that. You aren’t feeling what I am feeling,” I shot back.

“Let me know what you are feeling. Let me help you any way that I can.”

“The phone,” I answered and he grabbed the cordless for me. I quickly dialed the number by heart that I knew all too well.

“Hello?” Giles’ voice came from the other end of the phone. He sounded tired and I realized I must have woken him up.

“Cordelia is dead,” I announced and then hung up the phone.

“That is all that you are going to tell him?” My silence was his answer. “What can I do for you now?”

“You can start by leaving me alone and trying to figure out who killed Cordelia,” I angrily spat at him. He got the message and left me alone. I was grateful for that.

***************

I must have passed out for a while because when I opened my eyes Adam was standing across the room talking quietly with Angel, over what I was assuming were the events of today. I realized that I was also covered in a blanket with a pillow under my head. My wounds that I could see were dressed in an attempt to help heal them. The most important discovery I noted was that it was light outside and I knew that the sun was going to set in roughly an hour. I had been out for the entire day. I was about say something when Giles, Cassandra, and Willow came busting through the door to the hotel. I looked up at them and their grief-stricken faces. Giles met my gaze for a mere moment before Willow joined me on the ground. She was pulling back the blanket and looking at my wounds before I could even stop her.

“Hey,” I managed to get out.

“Don’t talk — save your energy. I just need to look over your wounds. When I have a general idea of what was used on you I could do a revealing spell to locate the reversal. At least, that is what I am going to hope for,” she told me honestly and I rested my head back on the pillow and closed my eyes again. The next time that I opened them I was in the middle of a circle in lobby floor with everyone surrounding me while Methos sitting at the power center of the circle with Willow, Cassandra, and Giles as his anchors. Angel, Amanda, Mac, and Gunn were there to hold balance in the circle. They were chanting something and I felt pain race through my body. I opened my mouth to scream but no sound came out. It was over in a matter of seconds and I passed out again.

****************

Voices of people near me lured me out of my unconsciousness the final time that night. My eyes opened slowly and took a few moments to adjust to the light in the room. Adam and Giles were sitting in the room talking quietly among themselves, keeping watch over me carefully. I managed to push myself up using my non-injured arm.

“How are you?” Adam asked me quietly.

“Need blood,” I answered honestly.

“You think you will be able to keep it down. Angel said it wasn’t pretty when you tried to drink last time,” Adam said to me.

“Last time I wasn’t a vampire per say…I was more of a Slayer in a dead body. I think in my vampire state I could keep blood down,” I answered and he nodded. He walked over to the bed and pulled up the shirtsleeve to let me have his wrist.

“There is blood downstairs in the frig,” I answered.

“And I am perfectly happy giving you mine,” he told me. “Don’t drain me, I don’t like dying this way,” he told me and I nodded. I bit down as gently as I could into his wrist and then drank until he told me to stop. I licked his wrist clean until the blue lightning healed him and then I licked my lips quickly.

“So…how did you find the reversal spell?” I asked him, making fun of him a little.

“Out of a book that I have,” he told me. “It was actually an old cookbook but they couldn’t read it and had to rely on what I translated it out to be,” Adam answered and I nodded to him.

“And Cordelia?” I asked quietly.

“Still dead and waiting,” he told me honestly and I nodded.

“Ok. Did you tell Cassandra or Willow?”

“Not till we bury Cordelia,” Giles answered honestly. “Or perhaps not until we are sure of where Gunn is going to go,” he told me and I nodded to his last statement.

“That is probably the best bet,” I agreed with him.

“Adam, did you take care of the circle in Cordelia’s apartment?” I asked him.

“Yeah, I put all the stuff back and hid what didn’t need to be seen right after I left you. And then I waited for Mac’s phone call to come back here,” he told me and I nodded.

“So when are we burying her? Where?” I asked.

“Tomorrow afternoon. Angel went this afternoon to pull some strings to get a casket and a burial plot this fast with no questions to be asked by the people involved. We are putting her in the casket and then lowering it into the grave,” he answered.

“Good. If you are involved then you need to make sure it is easy to get her out of there when it comes time,” I reminded him.

“Adam and I already signed up for burial duty, Faith. We made sure that we would be the ones in charge because we are the ones that know the truth,” Giles informed me.

“I’m sorry that we got you involved Giles. It wasn’t right…but we just didn’t…” I trailed off.

“It isn’t a problem Faith. We are on the ball here, don’t worry about it,” he tried to assure me.

“This has to be done absolutely correct, one hundred percent or it could come back to fuck us over hard. If Gunn finds out…” I trailed off as the door to my bedroom at the hotel was pushed open.

“If Gunn finds out what?” Angel’s voice asked, it was obvious he was curious and pissed that something was being hid from him.

“Like I was saying; if Gunn finds out who killed Cordelia he will go after him and I’m not ready to see another one of my friends die,” I quickly covered it up with a lie.

“You are very correct Faith. I am actually hoping we don’t find the fucker that did this to you both, for Gunn’s sake. If he took you and Cordy out I don’t think that Gunn would stand even a slight chance,” Angel guessed and shut the door behind him as he came into the room. He walked towards me and sat down at the foot of the other side of the bed. “How are you feeling Faith?” Angel asked me.

“Yeah, I’m like almost one hundred percent better. Whatever Adam did to fix me helped a lot. I’m a changed woman! Back to my vampire self and starting to heal,” I told him and he nodded, smiling slightly.

“Good, I was getting worried about you. We were all worried that we weren’t going to fix you before your body just gave up and decayed,” Angel told me.

“I wouldn’t give up without a fight,” I told him and he looked me in the eye.

“You give up without a fight? That sounds like my girl,” he told me and then took a second to realize what he had just said to me.

“It’s ok Angel. I’ll always be your girl, just more so sometimes than others,” I told him with a gentle smile.

“All right, well now that I am sure you are ok and I’m starting to put my foot in my mouth I am going to head to bed. I haven’t slept much in the last thirty-six hours and being human you really can’t do that,” he told me and I nodded to him, smiling slightly. He left the bedroom and the three of us breathed a collective sigh of relief that our cover wasn’t almost blown.

“I need to get some more rest. That spell did the number on my body. The demon inside me is pissed that I almost killed its body,” I told them and they stood to leave. “You’ll make sure to get me for the funeral?” I asked.

“Of course Faith, we wouldn’t let you miss it,” Adam told me and walked out of the room. I closed my eyes and let sleep take over my body.
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